I have a flaw. Actually, I have many, but my biggest flaw at the moment is something I'm very ashamed of: I smoke.

I should clarify I'm talking about cigarettes, not crack or pot or meth or anything - not that they are much worse.

I wasn't always a smoker.

When I was about 14 years old, I tried it for the first time because I was sure it would up my cool factor by like 11 points, at least. I mean, what is cooler than coughing uncontrollably until your eyes start to water and you almost can't breathe?

In high school, I pretended I was a smoker, again, to be cool. I'd sneak smoke breaks (sorry, former teachers at Lourdes Regional, I never got caught, and I'm not proud of that), and I'd smoke when I was bumming around town with my friends.

Then, when I hit college, I had my first apartment since the school I went to didn't do the dorm thing. I mean, how could I not smoke in my own apartment? How awesome and "adult" is that?

I was convinced I would be a full-time smoker; I pictured myself like Peggy Bundy, fixing dinner with a cigarette hanging from my lips. It seemed everyone in college smoked, and honestly, outside on smoke breaks was where I met a lot of the friends I made.

Still, I'd like to think my inviting smile and unique personality won them over rather than my ability to suck down carcinogens.

I still never really felt addicted. It was just becoming a habit.

Into adulthood, I slowly tapered off as I started to find myself and worried less and less about if anyone thought I was cool or not.

Eventually, I only smoked when I drank or heard a good song on the radio while I was on a road trip. They were the only exceptions. Other than that, I grew to hate cigarettes. The smell, the taste, the whole idea honestly made me sick.

Next, since I was barely smoking regularly, about 10 months ago, I switched to electronic cigarettes. They worked, but only for about five weeks.

I would lose the battery or the whole cigarette. It would lose its charge. It was heavy. It just seemed like a hassle.

So, I made the bonehead decision to only buy a pack on "special occasions."

And that, my friends, was far from brilliant.

That was almost seven months ago, and here I sit today, smoking more than a half a pack a day (sorry, Mom and Dad) of Virginia SuperSlims. Their diameter is tiny - comparable to a lollipop stick - but I know their adverse effects are huge.

I need to quit. I have to.

It's taking me for broke and sprint day at the gym makes me feel like I may cough up a lung and trip over it.

Hindsight, kids. Don't even think about trying it. Ever.

There is not one positive I can relate to smoking. It doesn't make you look cool. It costs buckets of money. It slowly kills you, which should be a huge concern of yours, but if you need to act tough and pretend you don't care, consider that people who love and care about you will be constantly worried about your health.

It smells awful, therefore, so will you. It can cause fires. It creates litter. It punches your lungs in the face and decreases stamina. It will slowly make your teeth, fingernails and house an awful, dingy yellow color. It makes you cough, which is never attractive. And, as a bonus, it is also bad for your skin, so you will wrinkle and age at a much more rapid rate than if you had never picked up the habit.

Heed my advice and just take up karate or something instead.

(Jenna Wasakoski, a News-Item editor, is a graduate of Von Lee School of Aesthetics and is certified as a professional makeup artist.)